CRYBABY : Straight Outta The Dollhouse


By Amanda Faye

Twitter is great for a lot of things: knowing which celebrity just left our realm, watching twitterfeuds escalate while eating spoons full of biscoff, giggling at the latest Directioners-fueled trending topics and, at the most dire of times (which seems to be at least once a week), keeping abreast of tragic world events and important protest movements. It’s also pretty ace at introducing new music, which is how I discovered Melanie Martinez’s new album CRYBABY, whose tag happened to be trending the same day poor Perrie Edwards had her mid-performance breakdown.  Reading tweets of lyric quotes by Martinez’s fans got me intrigued.  I’m pretty sure Pete Wentz is somewhere brooding over the fact he didn’t come up with some of her lines; Martinez has writing credits on 12 of the 13 songs on the standard version of CRYBABY.

I’ve never been happier to go down a twitter trending hashtag rabbit hole. The album is wonderfully caustic and catchy at the same time. The songs tackle not so happy and carefree issues like sexual assault, adultery, mental illness, and dead babies by pairing these anything-but-light lyrics with glittery electro-pop music. I actually found myself singing along with the song “Tag, You’re It,” not registering the implications of the lyrics until the third or fourth listen. It’s basically every woman’s nightmare who’s ever been aggressively cat-called while walking down the street – a story about being physically assaulted by a random male. #YesAllWomen

CRYBABY was conceived as a story surrounding the title character Cry Baby and her far from enviable romantic endeavors. I’m not generally a fan of concept albums (unless they result in Gerard Way dressing up in a marching band uniform while leading the bleakest parade EVA!)  but this one works.  Cry Baby seems like the type of chick I’d love to have on speed dial for those I-need-a-happy-hour girls meet-up days.  She’s been through some things, dated some losers, but she gets that “all the best people are crazy”.

Top 3 from the album:

Pity Party:

The first time I heard Leslie Gore’s “It’s My Party,” it became my favorite song OF ALL TIME.  The first time I heard Melanie Martinez’s “Pity Party,” which samples “It’s My Party” for the chorus, it became my second favorite song OF ALL TIME.  An exaggerated “whatever” has been my go-to snarl whenever I hit a wall of disappointment I can’t smash through, and after hearing this song I’ll be adding “just means there’s way more cake for me” because who doesn’t love cake?!?  Not me. I love cake. If this song were cake it’d be a Black Forest cake full of cherries and whipped cream topping.

Sippy Cup:

The music on this track is so mellow and low key, which is a perfect counterpoint to the far-less-soothing lyrics:

He’s still dead when you’re done with the bottle

Of course it’s a corpse that you keep in the cradle

Kids are still depressed when you dress them up

Syrup is still syrup in a sippy cup

The video that goes with the song is equally intense– it shows Cry Baby discovering that her alcoholic mother has murdered her husband and his mistress:

Alphabet Boy

We’ve all encountered that one guy who just insists on mansplaining to us something (anything really) in a condescending manner.  Now we have a song to sing in our heads while we pretend to listen:

I know my A-B-C’s

Yet you keep teaching me

I say fuck your degree

Alphabet boy

You think you’re smarter than me

My name is Alyss

Welcome to the first issue of Alyss.  This journal like most lit journals, rock bands and bad ideas started in a bar, in New York.  Particularly, my favorite bar Blue and Gold which first attracted me because of the colors of my alma mater (and my mother’s before me) and that desperate need you sometimes get when far away from home to be somewhere reminiscent of who you are.

So there I was sitting in a crowded dive bar in Manhattan drinking vodka sodas and complaining about how what the world needed was a new lit movement.  All present agreed the literary scene had fallen into distress since the days of The Beats.  Quite seriously we talked about how we should be the ones who brought about this great literary revolution.  Since we were drunk MFA students in NYC  what else could we do really but plot out a new literary venture in an attempt to combat the despair of quite possibly wasting a lot of time and money.  But again, we were drunk and that gives one a sense of optimism.  So we plotted and strategized and came up with a clever name for our new movement (PBR poets, I’m not even joking, we were that drunk) and then I took the train home to Brooklyn.

Really Alyss started on the subway as I thought about how all those famous and revered writers of The Beat generation, The Lost generation before them and a majority of the MFA canon were men. Particularly, old, white men.  And sure they were great writers but… if we’re making the effort to do something new and revolutionary I want to be represented.  Thus, slightly sobered up I decided to start my own lit journal (I mean I did grow up in the riot grrrl heyday of zines so…) and fill it with writings from a slew of boss bitches who wrote about issues and from a viewpoint that differs from a majority of what I’ve seen in lit journals.  tl;dr: I couldn’t find what I wanted to read in other journals so I channeled Willow Smith and created my own.

As for the name, all my favorite literary chicas from that teenage drug addict, to the little girl who fell down a hole or the half dead mutant hybrid chick turned action superhero, are all named Alice.  Every Alice I’ve ever met has been pretty kick ass.  I even took to using the stage name Alyss Diablo during the bandom days (if you know anyone who needs a bass player for their FOB/MCR/Panic! cover band, call me).  In fact if I ever have a daughter she’ll probably be named Alice or Alyss or Alyse or …you get the point. tl;dr: I just really like the name, ok.

So… welcome to Alyss.  I hope you find something here that makes you feel something real.

– Amanda Faye